Eat seasonally: making the perfect homemade gravy with British onions

Eat seasonally - top tips for the best homemade onion gravy

Howling winds, rain, grey skies – isn’t it just perfect weather, for battening down the hatches and making some easy eco winter warming, homemade comfort food.

If you are anything like me, when it’s cold outside, particularly on a weekend, there is nothing more desirable than staying put and cooking a classic winter warming dinner, like toad in the hole or Sunday roast. And of course, none of these would be complete with rich, onion gravy.

According to the folk at British Onions, many people find that making onion gravy isn’t always as straightforward it would appear. Apparently there can be quite a difference of opinion as to what constitutes the characteristics of a good onion gravy. Some prefer it thick, chestnut brown, whilst other like it thin and light gold in colour. I too found this to be the case when I posed the question on Twitter, “how do you make onion gravy?’ the responses I received, included recipes using brown sugar, to stirring in leftover haggis.

As it would appear that we all have difference ideas about how to achieve the perfect onion gravy, with a quarter of people surveyed adding a secret ingredient, and over half using a store cupboard staple to enhance the flavour, British Onions invited people to help them put together their definitive online guide – The British Onion Book of Gravy.

So last weekend I decided that my time, money and waste saving batch-making mission, would be to make a stock-pile of onion gravy which I could then bag, label and freeze, ready to use whenever I needed it.

Using a selection of onions that the guys at British Onions sent to me, plus having a rummage in my food cupboards, I went about creating my own ‘secret’ recipes.

To kick off, I used the fabulous British Food’s Elaine Lemm’s classic onion gravy recipe to make my basic onion gravy mixture – here’s the link.

Onions sweated, sugar and balsamic vinegar and stock added, the first store cupboard essential I experimented with was tomato sauce. Not my immediate choice of ingredient when making gravy, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did the tomato sauce turn my gravy a rich mahogany hue, it also added a delicate sweetness to the flavour. A definite favourite with my children, this goes perfectly with sausages (especially Lincolnshire).

The second batch of gravy I made, I added some mushroom sauce. What a contrast, a mature flavour, dark brown in colour and it also added a little bitterness to the gravy, if I’m honest, this was my least favourite. Saying that, I think it will go really well with the homemade cottage pie, that the OH has made.

Eat seasonally - top tips for the best homemade onion gravy

The final ‘experimental’ flavour I tried, was by adding a touch of English mustard. Now this was the one I was least keen to go with, but I can honestly say, it was the best. The mustard flavour was subtle and the colour was a gorgeous golden brown. Without a doubt this was my favourite and I’m looking forward to having this one with my Sunday roast next weekend.

So, there you have it, three different, but fabulous British, homemade, storecupboard gravies, made in less than 30 minutes, perfect for freezing, full of goodness and inexpensive to make. The perfect easy eco winter warming meal’s finishing touch!

Finally, before I go, I couldn’t share a recipe with you, without pointing out some cooking gadgets too, they may not be for everyone, but thought I’d share them anyway!

Can’t help crying when preparing onions? Well, this ‘invention’ may just be the answer you are looking for ‘Onion Goggles’. RSVP International Onion Goggles, Pink
Protect your eyes from the irritating onion vapours with these unisex, anti-fog goggles.

Cold gravy concern? How about the Deni Cordless Gravy Boat Warmer – just pour in the gravy and switch on. This ‘invention’ will keep your gravy (or sauce) at it’s optimum temperature for up to 30 minutes, plus it has a dripless pour spout.

Alternatively, you can just ‘hold your breath’ when chopping the onions and pour hot gravy from pan to plate and serve – that’ll save you even more money and energy!

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